As a Christian the way I think and believe is extremely and vitally important to every area of my life! People from different countries and different cultures, like Western, Eastern, and Third World cultures all think differently to each other!
E.g. - As an African I know what it is to think "African," and especially what it is to think "South African!" But as a South African living in America, I constantly find myself having to Purposely Focus on thinking "American!"
I have had to learn what it means to think "American", and sometimes as I travel throughout the I find that thinking "American" is not always the same everywhere you go in the USA either! You have "Southern American" thinking, that seems to differ vastly from the rest of the United States.
But what is important to see is that just as there is "African" thinking, and "American" thinking in this world, likewise in the Church today there are many different schools of thought. There are those who have "Biblical" thinking, and those who have "Word" thinking, or "Old Testament" thinking, and some even have "New Testament" thinking!
But when it comes to being a Christian Believer, it is very Important for us to learn and know, what it means to think "Christian" or "Gospel."
(Prov 23: 7) “For as he [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (KJV) The Definition for the word "Thinketh" is a verb, whch means to "Calculate!" or "to put a "Valuation, Estimate" on or the "Market Price"
So when this verse is translated with that in mind, it says; Vs 7, "as he [Man] has calculated (or put valuation and estimation or the "Market Value) in his heart, so is he"
It's clear that "what" and "who" we Esteem and Value in our hearts determines who and what we are!
The way I Think and Believe about God and especially when it comes to my Relationship with Him, controls the way I will view and relate to Myself, and the way I will view and relate to Others, as well as the world around me.
Religion, Legalism, and Self-Righteousness devalues and has no esteem for God's relationship with Man, and Man's relationship with God!
In order to think "Christian" our Hearts or our Core Beliefs, have to be Liberated from all forms of Religion, Legalism and Self-righteousness connected to our Relationship with God, because all True Freedom in Christian Life starts at a Heart Level.
(Galatians 5:1 AMP) "IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]."
Thinking as a "Christian" is to have a Relationship with God where our Thinking and Thought life is completely void of all Legalism, Law and Self-Righteousness, and our Conscious is Totally Free from all Sin, Guilt, Shame and Condemnation!
I believe it is extremely important that we understand and preach the Completed and Finished work of Christ for and on behalf of all men.
Paul writing to the Church at Rome says, (Romans 5:18, 19 AMP) 18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for ALL MEN, so one man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for ALL MEN! 19 For just as by one man’s disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him).
Jesus came and represented all of humanity on the cross, died the death and suffered the punishment to deal with our sin for and on behalf of all men for all time! (Heb 9: 26)
When He hung on that Cross we were in Him. When He died all men died in Him.
(2 Corinthians 5:15-16 AMP) "15 For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for ALL, then ALL died; And He died for ALL, so that ALL those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.
And Peter says in (I Peter 1: 3,4) 3 Praise (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been BORN AGAIN to an ever-living hope through the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 [Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, (AMP)
BUT, it is equally important if not "EXTREMELY IMPORTANT " that we do not stop there with our message of the Gospel! Because Paul goes on to say, in (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20 AMP) "18 But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring OTHERS INTO HARMONY WITH HIM]. 19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the WORLD to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His APPEAL as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] BEG you for His sake to LAY HOLD of the divine favor [now offered you] and be RECONCILED to God" (AMP)
We are to be representatives of God, and what He did through the Finished work of the Cross, and as representatives of God, we are to make a strong appeal through our preaching and teaching, for all men to lay a hold of this divine favor given to them, and for them to be reconciled to God!
There is a divine responsibility upon every man, to receive this free gift given to us by God, by BELIEVING it and receiving it by "FAITH" for themselves!
That's why Paul said, in (Rom 1:16, 17 KJV) "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that BELIEVETH; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
Also in, (Romans 10:9,10 AMP) " Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart BELIEVE (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be SAVED! For with the heart a person BELIEVES (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation."
And in, (Romans 3:26 KJV) "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which BELIEVETH in Jesus."
John made it very clear, in (I John 5: 10 - 12 KJV) "10 He that BELIEVETH on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that BELIEVETH not God hath made him a liar; because he BELIEVETH not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
We have been given a wonderful free gift from God, paid for and finished, but it is of no benefit to any man if he does not BELIEVE it, and RECEIVE it by FAITH!!!
As representatives of God, and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is negligent, irresponsible, and ignorant of us if we do not preach this truth clearly
So many Believers today are living unfulfilled, frustrated, substandard and destructive lives, because we have failed to Understand, and Believe two very Important Truths revealed in the New Testament!
1. - (The Unconditional Acceptance & Love of God) The simple fact that every man, woman, and child is infinitely Valuable, Precious and Unconditionally Loved by God!
2. - (Our true Identity in Christ) The divine Reality of our Mystical Union with Jesus Christ through the finished work of the Cross!
(Col 1: 27) “For it has pleased God to tell his people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.” NLT
This mystery reveals something so awesome and powerful that many people have a hard time seeing it, and believing it. It reveals the fact that as believers we have become intimately inseparable from Christ. (I Jn 4:17) "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." [KJV] This means that we are just as right with God as Jesus is at this very moment in time. Therefore Paul says in (2 Cor 1:20) "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ." (NIV)
In Jesus all the promises of God are yes and Amen to us, we are qualified to receive all and every one of God’s promises just because we are intimately inseparable from Him when we believe.
I believe that the Church today is standing at the beginning and the dawn of a fresh new era in the history of human existence. - Never in all of history has there been a time such as this, never has it been more possible for this scripture to be fulfilled, than in the time we are living in today.
But the question we need to ask ourselves is this; “Will we be the ones to preach it?” There is an element in the Church and in Christian society today that is suspicious, resistant, and skeptical of the message of Grace and Peace.
Just like in the days of Paul, and many other men of God throughout the ages who have preached this Gospel, there is mounting pressure on preachers, evangelists, teachers and pastors to compromise this message. Calling for so-called balance, and responsibility and referring to the message of the Gospel as Hyper Grace! Sloppy Agape! or Greasy Grace!
The message of legalism, that religion preaches has been around for such a long time, that it has become the norm. So when the message of Grace and Peace is preached it is perceived as abnormal, unbalanced and irresponsible.
But the Gospel of Grace and Peace seeks only to increase, expand, energize, encourage, edify and equip the believer to live a life of liberty and freedom before God. A life influenced and motivated to Christ likeness by the unconditional love of God. Not a life of sloppy irresponsibility, and lasciviousness, but a life free from the heavy burden of legal obligation!!
It is clear from scripture and from history, that if we are going to take this message to all the world, it's going to take some extreme measures, because there is going to be a persecution for this Gospel's sake! There is going to be pressure and persecution, not from the world or the non-believer but from within the Church and the Christian community! Our Friends, our Family and our Peers!
The truth of the matter is that the Purity, and Truth of the Gospel is at stake and needs to be preserved for the sake of men and woman who are hopeless, desperate and dying out there in the world. Not knowing the truth of what God has done “for them”, “in them”, "to them", and “with them” in and through the finished work of His son Jesus Christ.
So my charge and encouragement to us all for this coming year 2012, is this! If we are going to be the generation who is going to preach the Gospel as a testimony and witness to the whole world, we are going to have to “Keep this Message of Grace and Peace Alive”
Do not give in, Do not give up, Do not go back, and Do not recant!
As a Christian, I very often talk about the blessings of God and the wonderful things He has done for our family. I am not ashamed of the goodness of God in our lives and love to share this with people around me.
But there have been times when I have been told that I live in another world, ie not reality! This statement really upset me a while ago when someone very dear to me accused me of the same thing, making me feel that I was a little weird and question some of the statements I had made. After some real soul searching and thought about my life and how God has lead me through the years, I came to the conclusion that: YES, they are right!!! I DO live in another world!!
I absolutely live in a different world, a world where there is hope, love, peace, assurance and goodness in EVERY situation. I live in a world where God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are my best friends and care about what happens in my world. It may not always be sunshine and roses because I have issues to deal with in my world too, but the outcome is always to my benefit and the peace I have leaning on God is worth more than anything else. “God always makes everything work for good for those who trust Him” - Romans 8:28
On the one hand with all our traditions and manmade reasoning, we (human beings) have separated what we term “God” or church from “real everyday life”. We have been taught and had demonstrated that church is spiritual and that this spiritual stuff only happens in certain places, like special buildings or gatherings on Sundays. We are taught that there is certain behavior that goes along with these times and if we don’t conform to that, we are upsetting God and not getting or limiting His favor in our lives. Many times, joy has been removed from these meetings and in some cases joy evaporates when so-called “spiritual” people visit with us in our homes or at our fun times like parties and picnics.
Then, on the other hand we have “real” life that involves things like windsurfing, kite flying, snowboarding, snowmobiles, picnics, fishing, movies, biking, motorcycles, sports or whatever you can think of that is fun times with family and friends. Somehow through the years we have been taught that this life is “outside” church or God or spirituality.
I have battled to make sense out of this because shouldn’t everything that pertains to my life involve God? He is the creator, not me. It’s HIS life IN me that gives me passion and love for certain things. Why then would I want to separate myself into compartments? It just doesn’t make sense, yet that is what we have tried to do. We separate our lives into certain life and spiritual segments and then we can’t understand why we feel so disjointed and unhappy.
There have been times when I have absolutely preferred going away for a weekend rather than being in church because I have more fun outside of church than in church where I often feel I don’t measure up to someone else’s standards.
I heard a preacher call this full, complete life in God, “The Great Dance” and I love the idea. The illustration he used was of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in a circle, living in absolute harmony and peace, full of happiness and goodness of life. Then they decided to share this wonderful, all encompassing LIFE with other created beings – MAN and creation. Jesus (the Son) was the “gate” by which this sharing of life came to mankind. In the “dance”, they opened their arms and said: “Come, share LIFE with us. Enjoy our life. Enjoy your existence. Enjoy being part of a precious family!” What pleasure God took in making this happen!
Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:4 (MSG)
This was the plan from the foundation of the world. Its not a repair job because someone messed up. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit wanted us to share in THEIR life from the very beginning. And it’s easy to take hold of and believe that we are part of this wonderful, amazing family. Knowing that we belong, that we “fit”, gives us an awesome sense of self-worth and feeling of acceptance.
Let’s take this message to everyone. No one has been left out. No one has been excluded. Telling people how bad they are has never helped anyone. Telling someone good news makes them feel valuable and wanted and guess what? They start to change into the person they are declared to be! News is something that has happened … not something that needs to be done to make it happen! Good news sets us FREE to feel alive and happy, to enjoy every aspect of life and rest, knowing that we are not under investigation all the time and that God is part of what we are doing all the time.
For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)
Let the great AWAKENING start with YOU. Right where we are. Your world, your everyday situations need this awakening to the life of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.